Help me join my generation or at least get more cultural references.
January 17, 2013 6:06 AM   Subscribe

This ranks up there with "non-anonymous embarrassing questions." If you wanted to feel hipper than someone today, here's your big chance. The last time I really listened to newly-produced rock music of any kind was somewhere between Casey Kasem and Nine Inch Nails. I don't even own a radio right now. I have an iTunes account....I use for free podcasts.

How do the kids (and grownups) these days discover new artists, hear new songs, hear the latest bands? (I'm not talking about bubblegum pop or stereotypical top 40 music, necessarily). Especially if you don't already have your bearings or know what's out there or what you're looking for--Pitchfork is not a great starting point for this situation, neither are shows out in Brooklyn. Budget is relatively low (no Apple devices). Looking for specifics (i.e. not, I listen to radio and subscribe to podcasts and go to shows but, I listen to X radio channel and this podcast which is found X).

Next week maybe I'll hang my head in shame and ask about twitter and instagram.
posted by availablelight to Media & Arts (47 answers total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
I listen to Soundcheck and New Sounds, both of which are radio shows hosted by John Schafer at WNYC (with podcasts available). The music he showcases isn't exclusively bands, but much of it is.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:13 AM on January 17, 2013

I like NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts.
posted by rtha at 6:15 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

I struggle a little with this, too.

My current favourite sources are:

All Songs Considered, an NPR music podcast.

Pinboard, a blog about London music.

Pontone a weekly-or-so eclectic mix.
posted by forgetful snow at 6:16 AM on January 17, 2013

Pandora or are what I use. Both have the ability for a user to enter the name of an artist or song or genre and it'll play similar artists or those in said genre. So you find popular tunes or really esoteric stuff.

Grooveshark, Spotify and This is My Jam are similar internet tools. As a MeFite, there's also Carson B's semi-annual Mefi Swaps, one of which is happening now. Even if you don't trade, one can usually follow the tread to get a few ideas for tunes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

These podcasts are great for discovering new music, and one new song a day (well, three) is not too overwhelming. KCRW also has its archives for the past couple years available if you want more.

KCRW Today's Top Tune
KEXP Song of the Day
MPR Song of the Day

(All of these are available in iTunes, sorry I can't direct link from an iPad.)
posted by ella wren at 6:19 AM on January 17, 2013

Pandora can be great for discovery. Give it a song or artist you like or pick a genre station. "College" might work in your case. Totally free.
posted by donnagirl at 6:20 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Someone on AskMe turned me on to Radio Paradise and I have been listening to nothing else since I heard of it. It's run by a couple who hand pick the playlists, there's a forum where people can suggest new stuff to play or discuss the stuff being played. You can listen over a computer, an iPhone, a Squeezebox, or any other number of players.

I find that just about every song they play is a good one. One song flows into the next. One minute they'll be playing a neat bluegrass tune, later on some jazz, with plenty of rock and pop in between. I've been turned on to so many new (new to me, anyway) bands and artists through them. Even if they play something like Led Zeppelin it's not Whole Lotta Love but some acoustic number you've never heard before.

I always found Pandora to be repetitive, but RP hardly ever repeats themselves. I love it. It's just nothing buy great music.
posted by bondcliff at 6:20 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]

I use recommendation services from Last.FM and Spotify. Last.FM is particularly good because of the ability to see others' recommendations and tagged similar artists and then review their listening profiles to judge whether the listener/reviewer shares your tastes. Spotify's catalogue can be spotty as far as finding a mainstream artist's entire discography (due to the same rights issues that affect other services), but it is full of wonderful albums that I have never heard that are very similar to things I already like.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:24 AM on January 17, 2013

This takes a little work, but very often I hear a song I like on a TV show or commercial or in a movie, so I make note of some of the lyrics and let Google help me.

(Latest "discovery": The song "Heavy Cross" by Gossip, in the Dior commercial with Charlize Theron. I added all the Gossip albums to my Spotify playlist. Good stuff, and I had never heard of them before.)

Also, there are countless internet radio stations in iTunes on the PC/Mac. You can pick a genre and let it stream. Song and artist info shows up in the status window.
posted by The Deej at 6:26 AM on January 17, 2013

I find Spotify better than Pandora for discovery, because generally you can pick and artist and listen to a bunch of their albums as opposed to listening to what it gives you. (if you are in the US it also has a free ad-supported version).

I also enjoy the av club's reviews as a jumping-off point.
posted by contrarian at 6:41 AM on January 17, 2013

It has a bit of a pop slant, but The Singles Jukebox offers fairly comprehensive coverage of new songs/bands that are receiving blog buzz.
posted by Starmie at 6:43 AM on January 17, 2013

I really like the NPR music selections-- not just Tiny Desk Concerts but the full-length concerts and interviews as well as their full length album previews. Here in Philly, the World Cafe live and XPN are great sources, and WXPN streams online.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:45 AM on January 17, 2013

As long as we're airing our laundry, I'll admit to periodically scanning the "top singles" chart in the iTunes store, which has the double benefit of helping me identify songs I might have been hearing around the gym, etc., and introducing me to occasional new sounds/artists. At the very least, you can get a sense of what's popular, from rap to country, and keep up with some of the names and references.
posted by acm at 6:51 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Spotify, YouTube, and browsing music discussion on sites like Metafilter.
posted by neushoorn at 6:51 AM on January 17, 2013

How do the kids (and grownups) these days discover new artists, hear new songs, hear the latest bands?

I read Pitchfork. You say that's not a good starting point, but if you spend a few minutes every day reading the reviews and the news section, after a while you'll get a feel for what bands everyone is talking about. You could also read Gorilla vs. Bear or for electronic music you can read Resident Advisor.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:52 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Once a year I go through the Amazon 100 Best songs of the year, here is the 2012 edition, and find 5-10 I like. Not the best-selling songs, that is so, so painful.
posted by shothotbot at 6:54 AM on January 17, 2013

I discover new music through Spotify and the AV Club's music section. I'm in a similar position to you, and if something isn't on one of the relatively few music sites/services I subscribe to, I'll never hear about it.
posted by anaximander at 6:56 AM on January 17, 2013

Maybe it's because I live in Minnesota, but I listen to the Current. I've been amazed by how many people I meet that, upon hearing I live in Minnesota, mention how much they love the Current.
posted by advicepig at 6:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not a big fan of Pandora - the ads are really jarring to me.

A similar service is Songza. No audio ads (there are banner ads on the site), totally free, browser-based. They do a 'music concierge' service - you click through a couple simple choices (play music for waking up, or working, or cooking, or etc) and then a couple genre choices (brand new, indie, oldies, etc) and it plays some music. Very simple, and the playlists are created by real human beings, and I think they're pretty darn good.

So just choose "brand new music" or "top 40" or something similar as you click through their concierge, and you'll be hearing all sorts of new things.
posted by agentmitten at 7:01 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I pay for Spotify. I'm too lazy to pirate things these days or visit 5 different blogs to stream what's new. I click around what my friends listen to and what the related artists are, and if I hate something I have thousands of other options at my fingertips immediately. I also think the radio algorithm built into Spotify is slightly better than the one in Pandora, imho.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:05 AM on January 17, 2013

I listen to Radio Paradise, which has a great selection of new and old stuff.

I also find new stuff - ironically enough - through the Adult Alternative channel on my cable.
posted by Leezie at 7:15 AM on January 17, 2013

Besides just looking at the music posts here and seeing who is playing on Saturday Night Live (seriously, they seem to get "bands you will hear about in four months" playing on there, same with Letterman) and listening to my local urban and college radio stations, I downloaded the epic blob of SXSW music from this year. It's one song by all the bands who are playing. Some of it is awful but not only is most of it pretty good but it's all sorts of different genres (from Gospel to Dubstep to Reggae) and so you can get an idea of who is playing new stuff in genres that you already like. It's one big download (or set of downloads) and then you have music for days or weeks. You can get it here, 1,219 files totaling 7.52GB.
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Google "best albums 2012" or "best songs 2012."

Podcast All Songs Considered (NPR) and Sound Opinions (WBEZ Chicago), particularly ones in which they cover a lot of artists, like the year end retrospectives or the one they did before South by Southwest.

Read music writers like Sasha Frere Jones (in the New Yorker) and your local alt-weekly.

It can be hard to find new stuff on Pandora and Spotify. Try to find pre-made compilations or "radio stations." In Pandora, they'll offer you those stations. For spotify, you can google "dance mix spotify" or whatever and find links to others' mixes.
posted by salvia at 7:40 AM on January 17, 2013

Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service!

It's a mix of old and new, though he made a new years' resolution to start playing more new music. But a lot of the old stuff is obscure enough that you're still pretty much learning about it for the first time, or at least for the first time in detail.
posted by like_a_friend at 7:51 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've really been enjoying This Is My Jam, a social networking site where you share songs with friends and strangers, one at a time. I've 'met' some people with interesting taste there, and have consequently tripped over some stuff I would not otherwise have found. There's a fair amount of MeFites there, if that helps you to get started.

Also, the MeFi CD Swap!
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:57 AM on January 17, 2013

I pay a bit more attention than probably most people but I actually find Pitchfork to be a decent resource for knowing what's happening and what people are talking about. I don't like every band they recommend but spotify-ing (or rdio-ing in my case but I would do spotify if it were available in Canada) at the least the Best New Music is a pretty good way to find out what's happening in a certain music world. If you aren't up on everything that's happening it might feel a bit like jumping in the deep end, but if you even skim things and read their news posts it will help you get a feel for what's happening music-wise.

I'd also second the Singles Jukebox - they run a bit poppier than Pitchfork and a bit more international but I like it a lot. A lot of the writers on the Singles Jukebox have tumblrs which is to be honest how I mostly learn about new music - following music people on tumblr.

I also just skim the weekly new releases on Rdio and listen to anything that seems intriguing.

I haven't listened to it this year but I would also recommend the Fluxblog survey mix.

Also in terms of the radio - KEXP is very good, I've discovered some good stuff there as well.
posted by SoftRain at 8:14 AM on January 17, 2013

KCRW nic harcourt is pretty great for this
posted by lalochezia at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2013

bondcliff beat me to recommending Radio Paradise, so instead I'll suggest getting a smartphone app like SoundHound. When I'm out and hear a song that sounds interesting, it's usually pretty good about identifying it (less so if there's a lot of background or competing noise), and lets me bookmark it so I can check it out again later on Spotify or YouTube or what have you.
posted by Lexica at 10:39 AM on January 17, 2013

I put on in the background while I'm browsing.
posted by ghost dance beat at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2013

This is really weird, but I find new music in commercials. It seems like especially commercials during sports provide exposure to new tunes. Through commercials I found out about Feist (from Ipod), The Heavy (from Kia), and Röyksopp (from GEICO).
posted by Doohickie at 11:27 AM on January 17, 2013

I've been living in a bit of a hole for the better part of a decade and just started using Songza. It's been great for me to learn some of the current bands in the genres I like. (And it works internationally which is a big plus).
posted by wallaby at 11:52 AM on January 17, 2013

The Free Music Archive!
posted by mannequito at 12:17 PM on January 17, 2013

also, another vote for WBEZ's Sound Opinions podcast, and since I didn't see it mentioned, WFMU's Mudd Up!
posted by mannequito at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like to browse the "Popular Videos Around the Web" section of YouTube's music charts.
posted by thack3r at 1:05 PM on January 17, 2013

Largehearted Boy's weekly Try It Before You Buy It feature -- per LHB, "Try It Before You Buy It features free and legal mp3 downloads and full album streams from the week's music releases."

I also completely adore Spinner, which is something like AOL Music's hipster cousin. Each new album stream is accompanied a short list of (usually more popular/well-known) bands that the editorial staff has decided the streaming album "sounds like." Said list may or may not be terribly accurate, in your opinion, but it is likely to at least help you sort the wheat from the chaff.

Instant gratification bonus: Both websites provide direct links for you to purchase the album you are listening to right then and there.
posted by divined by radio at 1:59 PM on January 17, 2013

Ditto thisismyjam. I also occasionally browse audio samples for new releases at boomkat.
posted by juv3nal at 2:00 PM on January 17, 2013

My local public radio (but you can listen online) has a great program called Out of the Box with Paul Shugrue that plays a great assortment of new music. He sometimes focuses on musicians local to area but for the most part it's a little bit of everything. If I hear new music, it's generally because I heard it there.
posted by sephira at 2:19 PM on January 17, 2013

I look up whatever bands are touring and check out their music, but I work for a gig guide. I mostly browse PunkNews.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:37 PM on January 17, 2013

8tracks and hypemachine
posted by dinosaurprincess at 2:38 PM on January 17, 2013

Reddit's ListenToThis subreddit has some suggestions
posted by spec at 5:29 PM on January 17, 2013

Sometimes WHRB's "orgies" (several-hour blocks devoted to a single artist, composer, or label) can be a great source of new music. Concentration is on classical music but it's amazing what they sneak in. WHRB does the orgies at Harvard's winter and spring breaks (December => January and again in May).

Wales' Peski Records was the subject of a two-morning orgy this past December; I have my radio alarm set to WHRB and what a treat it was to wake up to that music. Without the WHRB orgy, I probably would never have heard of Peski. Just search "Peski Records" in Amazon (probably the same in iTunes, although I don't use it) and you'll find a lot of interesting new and new(ish) material. Or you can buy direct from Peski.

Check WHRB's website around December or April/May and they'll have a PDF (ugh, but what can you do) that tells you when each orgy is scheduled. They also have a Spinitron site that lists each track played and links out to iTunes and Amazon for many tracks.
posted by Currer Belfry at 6:43 AM on January 18, 2013

Also check out Important Records, located on the beauteous North Shore of Massachusetts so I would be remiss in not suggesting it. I'm full of esprit d'escalier this morning.
posted by Currer Belfry at 6:50 AM on January 18, 2013

All Songs Considered,, reading the NPR Music blog, Amazon recommendations, iTunes recommendations, Pandora. Occasionally, I'll find a good band from a movie or store that I'm in at the time. I'll occasionally go out and find songs from the bands that are playing the major music festivals.

It's actually a lot of work to find new music!
posted by cnc at 11:29 AM on January 18, 2013

Here's what's great about Spotify: probably the last time (in those pre-NIN days) you were regularly getting introduced to music was through friends. But that happens less when you're older and you're not just hanging out, listening to music, or going to random shows with friends as much as you used to.

What I enjoy about spotify is that it has allowed me to start getting introduced to new music through my friends again. If you're not weirded out by linking it to your facebook account (if you have one), then you can "add" all your facebook friends and go snooping through their accounts. Not everyone makes their libraries/playlists public, and you don't have to either. But I've spent some fun afternoons trawling through some of my musically cooler friends' spotify playlists to find new, good music.

And then once you start to find new things you like, you can branch out from there. For instance, if there's one song you like, go to the artist's spotify page and listen to their other stuff. Spotify will also give you artists similar to them - this can be hit-or-miss but it's worth a try. You can also google "artists like ..." which is, again, hit or miss but can be fruitful.
posted by lunasol at 1:00 PM on January 18, 2013

I like to go to YouTube and listen to music because almost any song is available there and you can listen to it all the way through for free. If I don't know the name of the song I do as some people do above and Google one phrase of it and figure out who the band is or the title.

Courtesy of MeTa, I also just came across this NPR Pop Culture blog called Monkey See (by MeFi's own Linda Holmes) which you might find interesting as a starting point for learning.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:46 PM on January 18, 2013

I like AnyDecentMusic for finding new releases that have reviewed well, as well as the Soma FM indie/pop station.
posted by piyushnz at 10:28 AM on January 21, 2013

I'm so glad that this thread existed because it got me listening to this Radio Paradise. They link to an app on their website, streams great on the iphone. So nthing that.

It won't really help you keep up with pop culture, but if you like acoustic-type things, there's an NPR station called "Radio Heartland" that I stream through the NPR music app that's fantastic. That app is also a good way to keep up with things; there are of course many hip, modern music stations you can stream.
posted by Buckt at 7:07 PM on January 22, 2013

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